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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Set Up Your Camera For Best Field Use

Get the most from your camera by having it dialed in for nature photography

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Have you set up your camera to make it work optimally for you? Have you changed the camera from its default settings? Most photographers make the RAW or JPEG (or both) choice, but since they’re used to film cameras, many don’t realize that there are other important settings that should be changed and adjusted from the way the camera came to you. While you can start using the camera “right out of the box,” most of the time, the default setup isn’t optimum for outdoor photography.

A camera is set up by the manufacturer to work well with everybody and in every condition. The manufacturer does this because of the diversity of photography their customers pursue, but we all know that when you try to please everyone with one solution, few people are truly satisfied. That’s why the camera manufacturer offers controls for you to set.

Often, advanced photographers assume everyone knows these things, too, so they never bring them up in articles, workshops and other presentations. Many of my workshop participants, who all love photography, have never thought about setting up the camera to make it work for them other than choosing RAW or JPEG and leaving the rest at the default settings. This even can apply to advanced amateurs and pros.

So now may be a good time to get back to camera setup basics. Give these tips a try, and make your photography more enjoyable and successful!

Turn Off
Auto ISO
Avoid this setting! It’s important to choose and set a specific ISO for your camera. While it’s true that digital cameras do a very good job over a range of ISO settings, Auto ISO will use the entire range of ISO settings available to the camera. This means that you could be shooting at ISO 1600 when ISO 100 would work. I can guarantee that ISO 100 is a far superior setting in terms of image quality, tonality and color compared to ISO 1600. You need to be able to choose the ISO setting that’s appropriate for your scene and conditions and not be blindsided by the camera choosing a very high ISO setting that will reduce the quality of your image.

Turn Off
Auto Rotate
Auto Rotate changes the orientation of a vertical picture so that it displays in the LCD as a vertical when the camera is held horizontally, i.e., the long side of the vertical is forced to fit in the short side of the now horizontal LCD. This feature also was designed for the casual shooter. A vertical image doesn’t display very well in a horizontal LCD; in fact, over half of your LCD is wasted!

setup setup setup

Think about this. Everybody wants bigger and bigger LCDs on the back of the camera, which is great because it allows us to better see our pictures and camera menus. But then a vertical picture shows up and is rotated to fit into the LCD—you’re back to the equivalent of an old camera with a small LCD because the vertical is now so small.


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